The Washington Post
"[A] warmly human account."
“To understand their lives, the author … takes us deep inside the smallholder's struggle…. Thurow has us hanging on the dramatic tensions affecting all four families: one finds the calf they'd depended on to cover future educational fees has died… Where Thurow is most effective is the interplay he weaves between hunger and policy - or its absence… Readers of The Last Hunger Season will find themselves getting caught up in these dilemmas, then breathing a sigh of relief to learn that the farmers Thurow followed in 2011 enjoyed reasonably good yields that year - seven to 20 bags of harvested maize apiece - thanks to One Acre's seeds and training.”
“Empathetic and eye-opening…. Thurow paints a sobering but ultimately hopeful picture of a continuing food crisis in Africa and some of the things people are doing to mitigate it.”
“Awe-inspiring . . . A well-told story of scarcity and hope.”
“Part of the beauty of this book is that it is not the story of foreign aid workers. Nor indeed does the author, a former Wall Street Journal reporter with decades’ experience of writing about Africa and agriculture, intrude. Rather it is the tale of villagers such as Wanyama who is grappling with dilemmas familiar to millions of rural and indeed urban Africans: whether to devote scant money to health, education for the children, or food…. This book shows us why history does not have to repeat itself."
“The Last Hunger Season is as much a look at the distortions of agricultural development in Africa as it is a gritty underdog tale of hope and survival. The issue of malnutrition and hunger in children and adults living in impoverished conditions is a vast one. But Thurow does a good job not only touching on those problems but also deeply exploring the trials and tribulations associated with farming in Kenya. His voice is even-keeled, hopeful and respectful, and it’s almost impossible for the reader to not be personally impacted by the stories he tells.
Toiling one step ahead of famine: a firsthand chronicle of a year in the life of small farmers in Kenya. As a senior fellow at the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, Thurow (co-author, Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, 2009) traveled to Kenya at the invitation of the American social enterprise One Acre Fund in order to help often-neglected small farmers gain access to the technology and knowledge that would allow them to avoid the famines that have typically plagued the African regions. Rural Africa, long a "nightmarish landscape of neglect," underutilized and undercultivated, might offer the hope of feeding the burgeoning future population of the world--but only if its resources can be ecologically harnessed and its small farmers trained to use the land wisely, according to the Obama Administration's Feed the Future initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other organizations. Under the auspices of One Acre, Thurow worked with cooperatives in Lutacho, in the same Lugulu Hills of western Kenya made famous by Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa. Of the 100 or so farmers in the area (overall, One Acre worked with 50,000 farmers in western Kenya and Rwanda), more than two-thirds were women who had to put aside traditional farming methods and learn the "Obama method," as the One Acre field officers called it, capitalizing on the American president's family ties to the region. As they trusted the new hybrid seeds of maize and learned how to weed, use fertilizer, buy on credit and sell on the commodities market, farmers like Leonida and Rasoa were seeing greater yields and learning how to plan for times of scarcity. Thurow's account is a seasonal diary, moving from the dry season at the New Year through the planting; he recounts the wait for rains and the harvest and the successes and failures of a handful of tenacious family farmers. A business-based approach that redefines the notion of food aid to Africa.